At the height of a heated campaign for Thailand's general election on Sunday, the Army, a powerful force in national politics, has dismissed the suggestions that would go to war with Cambodia to create a pretext for getting the polls cancelled.

The simmering tensions between the two countries over an ancient Hindu temple, which was awarded to Cambodia by the International Court of Justice nearly 50 years ago, have sometimes led to border clashes. But the latest focus on the Thai Army has more to do with its alleged domestic political intentions rather than its actual military strategy towards Cambodia.

Against Thaksin

The Thai Army is widely believed to prefer Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and disfavour the political camp of the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, now a proclaimed “fugitive” in self-imposed exile. Mr. Thaksin was overthrown by the Thai Army in a bloodless coup in September 2006. And Mr. Abhisit rose to the helm, with the Army's backing, amid judicial pronouncements that unseated two of Mr. Thaksin's associates as successive Prime Ministers in the wake of a general election held by the coup masters themselves.

With this background looming large in the present election campaign, Thailand's First Army Region Commander Udomdej Sitabutr described as “spurious” propaganda any talk of a war dateline, regardless of the source of this kind of speculation. Besides Mr. Thaksin's camp, Cambodian leaders, too, have suggested that the Thai Army might be preparing for war, given Bangkok's officially-stated “intention” to pull out of the World Heritage Convention because of its jurisdiction over the temple row.

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